February 7, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's note: Brian Edwards owns a 29-17 record (63.0%, +10.79 Units) on his guaranteed plays since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
**Ohio State at Purdue**
-- Matt Painter has the best team of his 13-year tenure at his alma mater. The former guard for Gene Keady from 1989-93 replaced his predecessor in 2005 and has guided the Boilermakers to nine NCAA Tournament bids. Painter has taken Purdue to three Sweet 16 appearances and has only lost in the first round twice, but a trip to the Elite Eight has eluded his previous squads.
-- With its 12-0 record in Big Ten play and its school-record 19-game winning streak, Purdue is on track to garner the Midwest Region’s No. 1 seed in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. There’s a lot of basketball to play until then, however, and there’s this matter of a Big Ten regular-season race that’s far from decided. In fact, the Boilermakers are only one game in front of Ohio St. in the league standings, meaning the Buckeyes can take the lead – via the head-to-head tiebreaker -- in the conference race with a victory Wednesday at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.
-- As of Tuesday night, most betting shops had Purdue (23-2 straight up, 14-10 against the spread) installed as a 9.5-point favorite.
-- Although Purdue hasn’t tasted defeat since back-to-back losses to Western Kentucky and Tennessee on consecutive days at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas over the Thanksgiving holidays, it has failed to cover the number in four straight games. The Boilermakers won a 78-76 decision Saturday at Rutgers, surviving a late surge from the Scarlet Knights, who took the cash as 15.5-point home underdogs. Vince Edwards was the catalyst with 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Dakota Mathias drained 4-of-7 bombs from 3-point land in a 16-point effort, while Carsen Edwards added 13 points, four boards and three assists. Purdue weathered a 31-point storm from RU’s Corey Sanders.
-- Purdue is unbeaten in 14 home games with an 8-5 spread record. Painter’s bunch has been favored by double digits in each prior Big Ten home tilt. The Boilermakers beat Louisville by a 66-57 count as 8.5-point home ‘chalk’ to narrowly cover in their only single-digit home favorite situation this season.
-- Carsen Edwards is averaging a team-best 16.6 points per game. The sophomore point guard has incredible speed and basically gets into the paint off the dribble whenever he feels like it. He is averaging 3.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game while hitting 39.6 percent of his 3-pointers. Vince Edwards (15.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG) is knocking down 41.5 percent of his treys and has handed out 77 helpers. Isaac Haas, the 7’2” center out of Hokes Bluff High School in Alabama, is averaging 14.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game. Mathias (12.4 PPG) has a 111/34 assist-to-turnover ratio and has drained 46.9 percent of his 3’s.
-- Purdue is No. 8 in the RPI Rankings and No. 3 in the Associated Press’s latest Top 25 poll. The Boilermakers are 5-1 against the Top 50 and 10-2 versus the Top 100. They have home wins over Louisville, Michigan, Northwestern, Nebraska and Maryland, in addition to neutral-court scalps of Arizona and Butler. Also, Purdue has won at Michigan, at Marquette and at Maryland.
-- Ohio State (20-5 SU, 12-11 ATS) owns a 4-0 record both SU and ATS on the road this year. This is the fifth underdog spot of the year for Chris Holtmann’s team, which has gone 2-2 both SU and ATS in the previous situations. This is the richest spot as ‘dogs for the Buckeyes, who won 83-58 at Wisconsin as 7.5-point road puppies back on Dec. 2. The other games as ‘dogs were at home (an 80-64 win over Sparty while catching 6.5 pts.) or on neutral floors.
-- Ohio State has been favored in each game since that Jan. 7 in over Michigan State. Holtmann’s troops are in a 1-3 ATS slump after failing to cover in Sunday’s 75-67 win over Illinois as 13-point home favorites. Keita Bates-Diop sparked his team to victory after trailing by 15 points in the first half. The junior forward produced 35 points and 13 rebounds while making 10-of-16 field-goal attempts. Jae’Sean Tate added 11 points, six boards and three assists, while Kaleb Wesson contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds.
-- Bates-Diop paces the Buckeyes in scoring (20.2 PPG), rebounding (8.9 RPG) and rejections (1.7 BPG). Tate is averaging 12.8 points and 6.0 RPG, while C.J. Jackson (12.8 PPG) leads OSU in assists (4.2 APG) and steals (1.0 SPG).
-- Ohio State is No. 14 in the fresh AP poll and No. 20 in the RPI. Holtmann’s team has gone 2-4 versus the RPI Top 50 and 7-5 against the Top 100. The Buckeyes have only one quality road win at Northwestern, but they own home triumphs over Michigan, Michigan St., Northeastern, Maryland and Nebraska.
-- The ‘under’ is on an 8-2 run for Purdue to improve to 13-11 overall and 8-5 in its home games.
-- The ‘under’ is on a 6-1 run for the Buckeyes, who have watched the ‘under’ go 17-6 overall. However, totals have been a wash in OSU’s road assignments.
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Eastern on the Big Ten Network.
**Texas A&M at Auburn**
-- Auburn (21-2 SU, 16-5 ATS) is the nation’s second-best team for our purposes, trailing only Nebraska in spread covers and Virginia in ATS winning percentage. As of late Tuesday night, most books had Bruce Pearl’s team listed as a 6.5-point favorite.
-- Auburn is undefeated in 12 home games with a stellar 8-2 spread record. The Tigers are 2-1 ATS in three games as single-digit home favorites.
-- AU is No. 5 in the RPI Rankings and No. 8 in the latest AP poll. Pearl’s bunch is 4-2 against the Top 50 and 10-2 versus the Top 100. The Tigers have road wins at Tennessee, at Missouri, at Mississippi St. and at Ole Miss. In fact, they’ve won two of those games by double-digit margins and all four by eight points or more. AU also has home victories over the likes of Arkansas, UConn, Ole Miss, Georgia and LSU, in addition to a neutral-court scalp of Middle Tennessee (#22 RPI).
-- Since taking its lone SEC defeat at Alabama on Jan. 17, Auburn has won five in a row both SU and ATS. The Tigers captured a 93-81 win Saturday over Vanderbilt as 11.5-point home ‘chalk.’ They led by as many as 20 in the first half and held an 18-point advantage at the under-8 TV timeout. Bryce Brown dropped 25 points on the Commodores, burying 8-of-12 FGAs and 5-of-7 launces from long distance. Mustapha Heron added 23 points and five rebounds, hitting 4-of-6 attempts from downtown. Jared Harper contributed 14 points, 14 assists and three steals.
-- Brown is averaging a team-best 17.0 PPG for AU’s balanced offensive attack. The junior guard has made 41.5 percent of his 3-balls and is the SEC’s fourth-leading scorer. Heron (15.6 PPG, 5.6 RPG) is averaging a team-high 1.4 SPG, while Harper (12.9 PPG) has a 134/44 assist-to-turnover ratio.
-- Texas A&M (15-8 SU, 9-11 ATS) has won back-to-back home games over Arkansas (80-66) and South Carolina (83-60) to seemingly right the ship. Billy Kennedy’s team has an outstanding non-conference resume, but a key suspension (three games for junior forward D.J. Hogg) and multiple injuries caused his club to start 0-5 in SEC play.
-- Texas A&M rocked the Gamecocks early and often, leading by 22 at intermission. Admon Gilder led five Aggies in double figures with 15 points, while Tyler Davis added 12 points, seven rebounds, two steals and one block in merely 19 minutes of playing time. Robert Williams finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots.
-- Davis is averaging team-highs in scoring (14.3 PPG) and rebounding (8.9 RPG). Hogg (12.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG) is knocking down 40.9 percent of his 3-pointers, while Gilder (11.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG) is making 80.0 percent of his FTAs. Williams (10.4 PPG, 9.6 RPG) is second in the SEC in blocked shots (2.6 BPG), and Duane Wilson (9.2 PPG) is averaging team-bests in assists (4.0 APG) and steals (1.2 SPG).
-- Texas A&M has limped to a 1-5 SU record and a 2-4 ATS mark in six road assignments.
-- Texas A&M is No. 25 in the RPI with a 5-6 record versus the Top 50 and a 10-8 record against the Top 100. The Aggies have home wins over Buffalo, Missouri, Arkansas, UC Santa Barbara, Ole Miss and South Carolina. They have neutral-court victories over West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Penn State, in addition to a road win at Southern Cal.
-- The ‘over’ is 11-10 overall for AU, 6-4 in its home games. The Tigers have seen the ‘over’ go 3-1 in their last four outings.
-- The ‘under’ is 11-9 overall for the Aggies, 3-3 in their six road assignments.
-- ESPN2 will have the telecast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Nebraska is on a remarkable 13-1 ATS run in its past 14 games after winning 81-75 at Minnesota last night as a 3.5-point underdog. The Cornhuskers hooked up money-line supporters with a payout in the +160 neighborhood.
-- Boise State pulled off a remarkable 73-71 comeback win last night at New Mexico. The Broncos were 1.5-point road underdog early Tuesday afternoon, but most spots closed them as two-point road favorites. They trailed by 11 at halftime and at that time, I tweeted out that BSU -3 in the second half (+8 adjusted) was a play for me. Leon Rice’s club was down six with 53 seconds remaining, but that’s when Christian Eengfelder buried a 3-ball off a nice dish from Chandler Hutchison. Next, UNM’s Troy Simons committed a turnover and Hutchison trimmed the deficit to one on a run-out dunk with 22 ticks left. After Rice burned his last timeout, Hutchison got a steal and subsequent layup to put BSU in front. Justinian Jessup was fouled after the Lobos missed a trey and he made one of two FTs. UNM’s Anthony Mathis missed an interior runner for the tie and BSU’s Marcus Dickinson grabbed the rebound as time was expiring. UNM’s Joe Furstinger came after Dickinson to foul, but he lunged at Dickinson with a running start and went high to the throat area. It was a major cheap that should earn him a two-game suspension. The Lobos’ entire bench emptied, as a couple of Broncos went after Furstinger. There was a skirmish that could’ve turned ugly, but fortunately better heads prevailed.
-- Tuesday’s Bubble Winners: Missouri at Ole Miss, Arkansas vs. South Carolina, Baylor vs. Oklahoma State and Providence vs. Georgetown (in come-from-behind fashion).
-- Arkansas guard Daryl Macon dropped 25 points on the Gamecocks. He’s scored 20 points or more in six straight games for the Razorbacks.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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